LINK to the article Undrafted free agent 'vets' don't lose roster anxiety JOHN "MOON" MULLIN Archive
CLEVELAND -- The 2011 Bears started the season with five undrafted rookie free agents on their 53-man roster. It’s perhaps a measure of an overall roster upgrade that the 2012 edition as it stands after Friday’s required trims to 53 may have none.
Wide receiver Joe Anderson, who caught the touchdown pass from Jason Campbell for the winning points against the New York Giants, and James Brown, who has played at both left and right tackle, are the best prospects to this point. Needing to use roster spots to cover for injury concerns, however, makes for narrow openings.
For some of the undrafteds of 2011, even having some NFL experience and seemingly locked up spots for 2012 have not dulled any of the angst that probably never leaves some players.
“You go into the locker room on your family day and you still don’t have a guaranteed locker yet,” said wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, who caught 26 passes last season but needed – and produced – some outstanding work again to make this year’s roster.
That appeared all but done after the Bears released veteran Rashied Davis on Wednesday but it’s the same situation just a year down the road,” Sanzebacher said.
What Sanzenbacher had in his favor was the franchise quarterback, which never hurts.
“You watch the film on Dane and you have to keep him [from] a quarterback’s perspective,” Jay Cutler said.
Anthony Walters came in undrafted out of Delaware last year, didn’t make the opening-day roster but was brought back via practice squad. He made it onto the regular roster after five games when it was apparent that Brandon Meriweather was out and lasted until going on IR in November with a hamstring injury.
When Brandon Hardin was lost to a neck injury in the Washington game and Chris Conte suffered a shoulder separation in the same game, Walters became a virtual roster lock.
Even though he never let himself think that way.
“Ever since Brandon went down, I’ve had opportunities here and there,” Walters said. “The same thing when it comes to Conte. It’s opened up doors for me….
“I tell a lot of the undrafted guys that I talk to now, and the rookies, you can’t worry about that type of stuff because it will consume you. Just worry about what you’re going to do today, what you have to do and not the guy next to you. Because if you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do, you won’t be here.”